Mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions are increasingly becoming a common way for businesses to extend or replace their fixed POS and become mobile. Over the years, mPOS has grown from a micro-merchant solution to one that is widely-adopted by enterprises in many different forms, including as a tablet POS.
Numerous businesses understand and already leverage the benefits of tablet POS solutions. Restaurants can use a tablet POS to bring payments to the table, which speeds up checkouts, ensures a diner’s card security, and provides an opportunity for staff to better engage customers. In a retail environment, during busy shopping times, staff can use this solution for line busting and help customers anywhere in the store. A tablet POS also allows hotel & lodging businesses to provide check-in services anywhere on their property. This way, guests and staff aren’t tied to the front desk, and properties can provide a personalized and more convenient experience.
Open Platform vs. Closed Platform
Tablet POS systems come in many shapes and sizes, and they can be built on an open or closed platform. A typical open-platform POS solution means the operating system (OS) is more flexible and gives merchants easy access to download and run third-party POS applications similar to a consumer tablet or a smartphone. It also provides opportunities for ISVs to distribute their apps more widely by taking advantage of mainstream app stores.
A closed platform refers to a POS solution which is locked down by the solution provider, giving them direct control over any apps, content or media that are able to be run on the device. This content is typically delivered through the solution provider’s own distribution channel, such as a proprietary app store. Both platforms are very similar in nature to the closed one being a little more restrictive.
Open Platform Benefits
Typically, open platform solutions are based on an OS familiar to most merchants and their staff, such as iOS or Android. This platform allows merchants to go live with their mobile payment infrastructure quickly. But it also offers many benefits for ISVs and merchants. Let’s take a look at ISV benefits first:
- Applications: An open platform allows ISVs and developers to easily build, update and distribute their apps. Given the openness of the platform and the app store, developers don’t have to go through time-consuming approvals by solution operators, which are commonly seen in closed platform systems. Bypassing that step allows developers to get their powerful business apps to market quickly.
- Larger Audience: In an open ecosystem, POS business apps are available to a much larger audience. Since they are typically run on common operating systems such as iOS or Android, anyone with access to the open-platform app store (i.e. Apple App Store or Google Play) can download, install and run one of these apps. This gives ISVs greater reach and revenue opportunities rather than the limited market through closed systems.
Benefits for merchants include:
- Many Apps: An open architecture gives merchants access to the wide range of apps that have been built for these platforms. They also have access to a bigger ecosystem of developers who build powerful apps that address varied business needs, such as apps to manage inventory, track employee timesheets etc.
- Easy Software Updates: Given the flexibility of the open platform architecture, merchants can easily update their mobile device’s OS and apps, and they get access to the latest patches that are useful for securing their POS.
- Easy Hardware Upgrade: With an open platform, merchants are not locked into a proprietary system. They have the flexibility to easily upgrade devices, card readers and the form factor of their solution if and when the need arises or technology changes.
- Mobile Device Management: An open platform also allows merchants to further take control of their mPOS solutions with mobile device management systems such as Airwatch and MobileIron. With these systems in place, merchants can control the apps running on each device, track its location, initiate remote updates, and more, giving them powerful tools to manage their estate.
The Way Forward
Mobility continues to enable payment acceptance in more places and offers many opportunities to improve efficiency and create new service opportunities for merchants. Open-platform POS solutions are now leading the way, becoming an important part of the payments equation. For merchants and ISVs looking for more flexibility and more ways to benefit from their technology investment, a tablet POS should definitely be a strategic consideration.
If you are looking to get started with a tablet POS solution, learn more about our latest pre-certified, open Android tablet POS solution and how it can help your business.
Irfan Nasir is VP of Product & Marketing at Ingenico Group, North America
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